The Dangers of Moral Therapeutic Deism


Yesterday, Pope Francis tweeted that we must “learn from the meekness of plants” in dealing with the ecosystem and environment. To wit:

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Tonight we will begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, known as the Jewish New Year but literally the “head of the year.” This Jewish month of Tishrei commemorates the day of creating man, and starts the Ten Days of Repentance preceding Yom Kippur. During this period, G-d determines whether, through our actions, we are to […]

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Religious Liberty in the Dock


This past weekend, Yeshiva University took a dramatic step that many observers thought would never happen: it decided to suspend the operation of all undergraduate on-campus clubs indefinitely, rather than to accede to a June 2022 order from New York State Judge Lynn R. Kotler “to immediately grant plaintiff Pride Alliance the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges afforded to all other student groups at Yeshiva University.” Judge Kotler issued the order after determining that Yeshiva was not a religious corporation under applicable New York law, and was thus subject to New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), which makes it unlawful for a business in “all places of public accommodation” to discriminate against any person because of his or her “sexual orientation.”

For its part, Yeshiva had claimed the protected status as “a religious corporation incorporated under the education law,” given that it had always organized its undergraduate institution to that end. It did so even though one of its other divisions, namely Cardozo Law School, had, as its irate faculty had noted in a recent letter to Yeshiva President Rabbi Ari Berman, long given full recognition to LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations. But for Judge Kotler the key point was not what Yeshiva does today, but what it wrote about itself in 1967 when it expanded its charter from the study of Talmud to a wide range of Jewish and secular studies. This expansion, Judge Kotler explained, qualified Yeshiva as an “educational corporation under the Education Law of the State of New York.” In effect, Yeshiva was barred by its own fifty-five-year-old declaration from claiming a protected religious status today.

But why? By any functional account, the reasons New York City (like so many other government entities) created this religious exemption was to ease the nasty conflict between forced association under antidiscrimination laws and the exercise of religious liberty, as protected by the First Amendment. That conflict remains in place no matter what the state charter says. The underlying theory is that it is appropriate to impose a nondiscrimination rule when the various suspect attributes of a given person are irrelevant to any rational decision about the performance of the protected parties under statutes like NYCHRL, but that this logic does not cover activities that fall outside the public realm—such as the practice of religious education. That theory was given voice by Justice William Brennan in Roberts v. United States Jaycees (1984), when he ordered the Jaycees, a large men’s civic organization with many branches, to admit women. But, at the same time, Justice Brennan noted that the antidiscrimination laws were displaced by the principle of free association that covered “certain intimate human relations . . . in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious and cultural ends.”

Father Amorth on Saint Pio


The late Father Gabriele Amorth was a protege to Saint Pio, the phenomenal figure who lived in a remote Italian monastery and who drew the umbrage and awe of bishops and cardinals. Accused of drumming up publicity for Padre Pio’s “act,” the monastery took extensive measures to discourage those who came to confess to the padre and attend his renowned masses, Latin, of course, which sometimes ran as long as four hours and which convinced many attendees seeing the ever-bleeding wounds on his hands and the depths of passion he brought to these occasions.

He spent years confined to his cell, by command of his bishop under the authority of ecclesial obedience. The Padre accepted his punishment and suffering as the will of his Lord and endured. Father Amorth wrote a biography of Saint Pio before he died, and St. Ignatius Press published an English translation in 2021.

It is a humbling thing to read. We live in a vestigial Christendom where, if the sacrament of confession is observed at all, it is likely to be entirely private, in a moment of silence and reflection before the absolution of the assembled en masse. When one understands Saint Pio’s gifts and his career, this modern adjustment comes to be seen not as an innocent modern streamlining but as a horrific crime against the congregants’ needs for spiritual development and sanctification.

Attacks on Religion Are Ramping Up


Would anyone argue that religions of every faith (except perhaps Islam) have been at war with the secular Left, including Marxists and the Woke community? It isn’t a war that the religions have invited or instigated, but their viability and faith practices are being challenged and they must push back. I think you’ll find two stories especially intriguing, because they have both occurred in the last couple of weeks, highlighting attacks on Christianity and Judaism.

The first story is about Gov. Ron DeSantis. We could discern that the most recent attack against him is just one more effort to discredit and demonize his efforts in Florida:

While visiting a private Christian college in southern Michigan that wields influence in national politics, Gov. Ron DeSantis rephrased a biblical passage to deliver a message to conservatives.

Autumnal Anxieties in Allemagne…


…better known as Germany around these parts. It starts like this:

We’ve been back in the Federal Republic now for most of a month, and the anxious mood of the country seems to have gotten worse. Before the headlines here were taken over by news of Queen Elizabeth’s death and of the startling Ukrainian successes in the Russo-Ukrainian war (update as of September 12th, here), the newspaper headlines were filled with stories about the impending wave of price increase for everything from foodstuffs to soaps to clothing, all driven  by the continuing price increases in the energy sector. The war and the energy prices are of course related, and those who laughed when Donald Trump warned Europeans against relying on the regime of Vladimir Putin for their supplies of natural gas are finding out now just how appalling crow really tastes when it is served up cold. It tastes like the fear of pensioners who quite legitimately think that their government is going to force them to choose between food and heat this winter.

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Was there ever an era of biodiversity? Hard to say. It appears that coincident with the discovery of this wonder was the perception that it was scarce. Nobody says, “We used to have lots of biodiversity. Lianas grew up our pantlegs! Kudzu made lovely bouquets! And dog shows had thousands of breeds!” Nor does anybody […]

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Israeli political philosopher Yoram Hazony (’86) discusses the Enlightenment, the American Founding, his latest book: Conservatism: A Rediscovery, and Conservatism’s past and future.

Dr. Hazony is the the President of the Herzl Institute, based in Jerusalem, and the chairman of the Edmund Burke Foundation, a public affairs institute based in Washington D.C., which recently hosted the popular National Conservatism Conference in Miami, FL.

Religion and Sociology


Sociology is perverted when it becomes a positive religious science. This happens when we get “missional” syllogisms. Here’s a contemporary one: If people have stopped going to church because they are more at ease with screens than people, then we need to offer them church on a screen. The idea is that if we get our sociology right, we can adapt—and then they will believe! Or, at least, “then we will have new church members.” In this way, unhelpful ­arguments unfold: if we speak in this language (and not that); if we offer these services; if we re-arrange these relationships; if we refashion this or that institutional context; if we talk about this and not about that—then unbelief will turn to faith. Or then at least unbelief will shed its filthy clothing and reveal itself as hidden religiosity.

I cringe as I think of the many clergy conferences, “missionary” workshops, and seminary faculty meetings I have attended where this line of argument has been superordinate. But the underlying assumption is false: Unbelief has no socially distinctive causation. “They will listen and not hear” (Jer. 6:10).

Who Is This Jesus, Anyway?


I saw on Amazon a British sports-arena version of Jesus Christ Superstar.  The acting, singing, choreography, integration with giant video imaging, and the clever use of intentional anachronisms made for good entertainment for those who like drama.  The lyrics and movement showed a keen familiarity with the Biblical text even though the writers clearly spun the narrative in directions completely unintended by the original authors.  But then, since when had honoring the meaning and intent of the original authors meant anything to those in the art community?

While I enjoyed the entertainment, I did not find Webber-Rice’s version of an anguished, tormented, self-doubting, and annoyingly whiny Jesus to be very compelling.  (If only he had listened to Judas!)

The problem of who Jesus was is by no means a new one.  Pick up any book on church history and the first four hundred years or so seem dedicated to fighting to getting the story of Jesus right.  Was he Creator or created?  Was he human or God?  If both, how does that work?  And how do we reconcile this with Hebrew Scripture and monotheism?  The creeds such as the Apostolic and Nicene creeds were kind of statements that said, “We have looked at this from every possible angle and this is the best language we can use to answer these questions.”

Only Experts Can Be This Dumb


This is really quite a remarkable video wherein Joe Scarborough says the Gospel of Jesus Christ is pro-abortion. How did we ever become this stupid? Mika looks on in awe thinking that Joe just destroyed the pro-life movement. It boggles the mind.

Joe Biden was right that there is a battle for the soul of the nation.

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So tired from college football week 1. After 67 years of watching this stuff cannot believe the weird endings I saw yesterday and today. N. Carolina v. App State; N.C State v. E. Carolina. And tonight LSU-Fla. State. So want to go to bed on a high note so check my favorite: Battle Hymn of […]

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So on UTube after my Bo Diddley fun memories. Then get directed after the Washington Post March, U.S. Army band doing a great job on the Star Spangled Banner to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing all the great patriotic songs. Saw the place on a visit Utah years ago and very impressed. But the talent […]

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Shia LeBeouf: Padre Pio’s Latest Miracle


Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, was an extraordinary friar of the Capuchin Order who knew things he had no way to know. The only tougher confessor would have been Jesus Himself. People would fly halfway around the world to stand in line for hours to confess to Padre Pio. And he would tell them what they had not confessed, and be right.

Not fuzzy stuff, none of this cold reading vagary and leading questions. He went straight to the, you paid the babysitter three pesos to commit a sexual act stuff. He almost never left the monastery, but had notorious episodes of bilocation, appearing in two places at once, including an appearance before the pope where no one saw him enter or leave, but everyone saw him there. And there was the corrupt bishop covering for rapist priests (nothing is new under the sun) who commanded under obedience that he not leave his cell for many years. I am currently reading Fr. Gabrielle Amorth’s memoir of his mentor and friend.

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Pursuant to my studies of the Brazilian abolitionist José do Patrocínio, I whistled up some history lectures on YouTube, and…stopped right there. They looked boring. You know what would be interesting? An examination of slavery across all human history and all over the world, with the following proposition in mind: slavery was universal because it […]

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On August 24, the Biden Administration announced a much-anticipated plan to forgive some of Americans student loan debt. The new changes could “provide relief to up to 43 million borrowers, including canceling the full remaining balance for roughly 20 million borrowers,” according to a White House fact sheet.   Preview Open

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If God Exists, Why Does He Do Such a Lousy Job?


When venturing to discuss the nature of G-d, the discussion can get very complicated. And when you add in the component of the dominance of secularism over religion in our times, the conclusions we draw may be all over the map. For that reason, I’ve chosen to discuss briefly many of the expectations that people have of G-d, but I believe there are a few key ones that have driven the secular Left to reject G-d and embrace nihilism. If we are going to have any chance of breaking the hold that secularism has on our society, we have to address not just religion, but the nature of our relationship with God. And we must deal with the deep disillusionment that many on the Left are experiencing, and encourage them to expand their understanding and awareness of G-d.

The OP title suggests that the source of some people rejecting G-d is their disillusionment with Him: what He represents, how He interacts with the world, and His role within the world. But even more devastating for some people is that G-d doesn’t behave the way they think He should: He shouldn’t allow bad things to happen (like hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes, rockslides, and especially the Holocaust). He shouldn’t let bad things happen to people (like disease, heartbreak, car accidents, bankruptcy, and severed relationships). He should act even when his actions could compromise our free will (such as our robbing a bank, stealing from a store, using drugs, and ignoring our obligations. He should make sure that people live satisfied lives (such as being happy, living without poverty, disappointment, or stress).

In other words, if we believe that G-d exists, He should exist to make our lives precisely as we would wish them to be.